The government on Wednesday, revealed the eligibility criteria for 'Income Support Allowance', introduced as a relief scheme for individuals experiencing financial difficulties as a result of employment issues due to COVID-19 pandemic.
The criteria were gazetted by the President's Office in a policy document which outlined the details of the scheme.
Under the support scheme, government will grant an allowance of up to MVR 5000 to individuals that fall into four main categories:
- Individuals that were dismissed or suspended from employment
- Individuals on leave without pay
- Individuals facing salary deductions
Only Maldivian citizens, with employment based in the Maldives are eligible for the allowance.
All individuals employed until March 1, currently facing dismissals or suspensions and placed on leave without pay are eligible to receive an allowance of MVR 5000 under the scheme. Those earning less than MVR 5000 as a result of pay cuts are eligible to receive the difference up to a maximum of MVR 5000.
According to the scheme, freelancers, including those receiving an alternative source of income are eligible for the MVR 5000 allowance. However, individuals with a combined income in excess of a monthly total of MVR 5000 will not be eligible. Freelancers earning less than MVR 5000 are eligible for the difference up to the maximum amount.
The relief scheme will provide income support for all qualifying individuals for a period of three months starting April. However, Minister of Economic Development, Fayyaz Ismail stated that the scheme's duration will be extended if economic circumstances do not improve.
Individuals receiving allowances under the scheme are obliged to report to the economic ministry should their financial situation improve and fall out of the eligibility criteria. Criminal charges will be filed against those in violation of the conditions.
In order to apply for the scheme, individuals are requested to submit an application via economic ministry's online portal 'jobcenter.mv'.
Meanwhile, the government also introduced a financial stimulus package of MVR 2.5 billion to prevent the closure of local businesses and the loss of jobs in a bid to counteract the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the local economy. Small and Medium enterprises are apportioned MVR 400 million of this sum.
Earlier, the government vowed to reduce state spending by MVR 1 billion. In this regard, the government had slashed the salaries of all political appointees and heads of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) by 20 percent. The Parliament followed suit, approving a 20 percent cut on their members’ salaries as well.
Maldives now records a total of 955 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 912 active cases, three fatalities and a total of 40 recoveries. Capital city Malé, one of the most densely populated places in the world, has recorded a significant increase in COVID-19 since it recorded its first local transmission of the virus on April 15.
On March 12, 2020, the World Health Organization classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 4.42 million people and claimed over 298,165 lives around the world. However, out of those infected, 1.65 million people have recovered.